Texas begins its season at home against Incarnate Word on Friday. The team looks to bounce back after losing to Northern Iowa on a half-court buzzer-beater in the NCAA Tournament’s first round last March.
Here are three things to know with three nights left until tip-off.
Texas won’t rely on a star to lead the team
While Texas’ roster is young and inexperienced — its rotation features four freshmen — the roster is loaded with talent. And head coach Shaka Smart plans to use every bit of it.
Texas will deploy a point guard-by-committee approach to put the ball in the hands of sophomores Kerwin Roach and Eric Davis Jr., as well as freshman Andrew Jones. Smart said the team will also look inside often to give scoring opportunities to the big men and create a balanced attack.
“All of our guys will play together,” Smart said. “Particularly our perimeter guys, those guys are going to be very much interchangeable this year. You’ll see a lot of different lineups with multiple guys at different positions.”
A talented freshman class
Texas boasts the No. 5 recruiting class according to 247Sports, and all four of those highly-touted freshmen will get an immediate chance to impact the team.
“I’ve never, as a head coach, coached a team where the freshman played quite this much,” Smart said. “But this is the best freshman class that I’ve had the chance to work with.”
Jones and guard Jacob Young have impressed with their quickness and passing skills during preseason — Jones dished out at least five assists in both the intrasquad scrimmage in October and last week’s exhibition. Big men Jarrett Allen and James Banks will help anchor Texas inside the paint.
Look for a big impact from the freshmen early.
Longhorns look to limit fouls
Smart’s high-pressure defensive scheme struggled at times last season as Texas often fell into foul trouble early in contests. But the Longhorns are already working to diminish that problem this year.
“You have to figure out very quickly how the game is being officiated,” Smart said. “Especially with a young team. That’s something that we have to work with them on … We have officials come into practice at least two times a week and I think that’s been good.”
Rotating players and using the entire roster will also help Smart control Texas’ fouls. Now that Smart has his type of athletes on the court, his defensive system should run more smoothly.